How to Effectively Launch Your Year End Campaign

by Maria Sadusky  |   |  Fundraising  |  0 comments

9 min to read ✭ In this post you will learn about how to choose the most impactful marketing channels for your year-end campaign, as well as determining a timeline for the year end phases.

What are your nonprofits’ top pain points in fundraising? In order to build your year-end fundraising campaign, this is the most important question to ask in order to understand what doesn’t and what does work when it comes to building your fundraising strategy. We stress to all of our clients how important it is to take some time to map out specifics of what social media platforms, fundraising strategies, and campaigns have performed well in order to repeat this success year after year. Another thing to consider is the past two years of unpredictability in the world and people’s behavior in terms of how it affected your strategy. The more data that we have to predict and project how we strategize this year-end, the better we’re going to be able to perform.


We wanted to narrow things into more actionable tools and considerations in terms of the marketing channels and platforms that you’re utilizing, as well as the timeline of rolling out your year-end campaign. So without further ado let’s jump into it!


Most Impactful Marketing Channels for Your Nonprofit


Each organization has its own set of different challenges, there is no one size fits all solution. Your nonprofit should look at the marketing tools that you have at your disposal and how to utilize them to address those different challenges that you may have year after year. With some more understanding of how to best leverage these tools, you may be able to utilize your most well-performing marketing channels in a more efficient way.


Paid Social: Facebook & Instagram 


These channels give you the ability to build and control your full marketing funnel from awareness to consideration to conversion. They also customize the content, copy, and creative, depending on where your audiences are in their transition. You want to make sure you are talking to your audience based on where they are in your marketing funnel. We know this is a competitive time of year, especially advertising through Facebook and Instagram, so you want to be sure you are showing up for your donors and confronting them with your mission, story, and goals rather than only communicating with them when you are making a donation ask. Create a Facebook group, Facebook events, and use FB/Instagram live regularly to keep donors engaged prior to asking for donations.


If one of your pain points is funding for advertising, then it is important to know that this can be expensive for smaller nonprofits,  especially if you’re starting just for year-end fundraising with a limited budget throughout the rest of the year. We also want to consider iOS 14 tracking changes and how to combat that within these channels. Important things to think about include ways to keep people engaged on platform and prioritizing growing your social media/email lists now so you are able to remarket when making donation requests in November – December. Of course, your strategic approach will change considering if you are just building up your campaign for Q4 versus building up your funnel throughout the year using these channels individually.


So, what can small nonprofits who just started to advertise for year-end purposes do? Don’t worry, there is a tailored approach for everyone! 


Youtube & Display


Youtube and Display offer a cost-effective way to stay connected with large volumes of individuals by using quality creative to engage your audience. Youtube, for instance, offers in-stream videos to push out campaigns which are those ads you see at the beginning of Youtube videos. What people don’t know is that you don’t pay for this ad if the viewer refrains from skipping until after five seconds, if they don’t interact with the ad before 30 seconds, or if they skip before 30 seconds. Basically, if you can strategically create a video that puts all your branding and impact in the first few seconds and then get your entire point across in those first 30 seconds, you could be getting so much impact with very little up-front cost.


Think of display as the upgraded version of billboards and bus ads. It gives businesses the option to display a paid ad next to the platform’s video player that helps track and find out specifics about your audience. Overall, it serves the purpose of awareness rather than direct engagement for brand and campaign awareness and facilitating multiple touchpoints. By only using Youtube & Display, you risk exhausting your supporters by showing them the same ads over and over on one platform, instead of approaching them with your brand across all of their media channels.


We have to consider that even though they may have decided to donate after seeing multiple ads across channels, they may not be clicking on your display or going to the landing page. (Learn how to create an effective landing page) Rather, they may wait until they have their wallets open and have specifically sat down to search your organization. That is how all of these channels work together to convert your audience.

Search Advertising: Google Ad Grant and Paid Search


These both work together to increase visibility on the front page of search results when your SEO is poor or your brand name or cause area is competitive. You want to make sure that you are showing up on the front page and top of the page. With the Google Ad Grant, you can increase that new relevant website traffic for free. Essentially, you are building out your remarketing audiences and you’re growing your brand awareness.


With paid search, you’re able to capture warm non-branded traffic, with actual search intent.  Both the Google Ad Grant and paid search work together to direct traffic back to your campaign landing pages that you’re working so hard to create. When people see your display ads and are ready to convert or donate, they will be easily directed to your donation landing page. One thing to consider with these channels is that there may be more competition with ads in Q4 causing the pricing to increase. 


Onsite Conversion Design


This final channel we emphasize is a bit different from the others, but it is important enough to dive into when considering how to get people back to your landing pages. After investing all of this work in advertising, it is extremely important to get people back to where we want them to go without issues.  That is what conversion design does. One of the main benefits is being able to streamline the path back to your campaign pages, but it’s also allowing awareness. So, with the Google Ad Grants in partnership, as an example for letting it grow our top-funnel traffic, we don’t want to send that traffic immediately to a donation page. Instead, you want to warm people up. 


Dynamic conversion design can let people continue to explore your website wherever they are in the marketing funnel and search while also dynamically seeing pop-ups for donation matches for Giving Tuesday. Letting them know there are only three days left before the new year to donate or administering exit intent pop-ups, will remind them to complete their donation before they leave the page. 


Year-End Timeline


First of all, when does the year-end actually start? September? October? How about year-round? That’s more like it. But for the sake of the timeline, we will go through the Q4 year-end timeline we have created for our clients. Even if you’re building out your campaign all year, September is really when we begin to push out our campaigns with a specific focus. This is just a framework to organize your strategy. Let’s dig into the different phases that can be easily customized for your organization’s needs and circumstances. 


Prepare and Analyze


Leading up to September is the time to prepare, analyze, and ask questions about 2020-2021 trends, data, challenges, and strong points. Ask yourself, what are some challenges you’ve been seeing particularly this year, and use it to understand what this year-end will look like. Also at this time, it is important to start segmenting your leads, setting your target year-end fundraising goals, and defining your campaign team. Along with gathering incentives for your donors early so you are not scrambling at the last minute.


Pre-Wire and Gratitude (October-November)


During this phase, the goal is to pre-wire our individuals, whether they are new warm non-donor audiences or our supporters, and offer ads of impact to show how their support is being useful to the cause. The messaging between those types of audiences is going to be a little bit different from how to pre-wire. Those that are newer audience members would need more ads of impact to familiarize them with the impact your nonprofit is producing. During this time it is also especially important to pre-wire your current supporters and grow your remarketing audiences by saying “Thank you” and increasing site traffic with the Google Ad Grant. Regardless, we see great success from leading with gratitude. Everyone is asking during the year-end and we want to stand out so they know they’re actually making a difference in the world by sending their money to a good cause.


Full Launch of Giving Tuesday Campaign (November)

#GivingTuesday serves as the main launch point of what is outwardly seen as the start to Year-End fundraising and serves as the “initial excitement” phase. The beginning of November is not necessarily when you want to start asking for donations but you want to prepare your audience for what is to come with Giving Tuesday. During this time, we also want to be increasing our budgets in paid social.


Having a Facebook event in November to engage your audience can get people excited by letting them know that Giving Tuesday is coming up and this is what your organization is currently up to without actually asking them to do anything yet.  This allows for a relationship-building moment, which we know is extremely important! An example could be a lunch party showcasing a big video you are putting out which will start that first level of consideration in your audience’s mind. This is the time to shift content towards a donation focus on Youtube & Display, streamline your path to the campaign page with search advertising, and implement higher frequency exit-intent and welcome mat pop-ups with conversion design.


Engage (Early-mid December)

During this engagement phase, we want to keep that Giving Tuesday energy going in order to get donations by year-end. If you didn’t have a Facebook event in November, you could always do a year-end event and instead of asking for donations, offer how valuable your organization is, what you’ve raised so far from Giving Tuesday, and how you are moving forward. We also want to continue that pathway to campaign pages with paid search ads and onsite conversion design. So with some quick stats…


The Big Finish (End of December)

31% of all giving occurs in December and 12% of that happens in the last three days. With that in mind, this is our peak moment to finish our race. This is our message of urgency: compete, remind, compete, make it easy, and close that deal. This is when we want to dedicate most of our resources, our budget, and time to pushing the ask. It’s unlikely that you’re going to get donations from new audiences at this time so it is especially important to put most of your focus towards remarketing, search ads, and onsite conversion design. There is nothing worse than putting all this effort into gaining traction to then have your audience leave you on read…


Follow-up & Gratitude (January)

So we just did our big finish, but it’s not the end yet. Like we said before, the year-end campaign is a year-round timeline. The goal is to continue to push that momentum forward into January and beyond by showing your appreciation to your supporters. To gain retention, it is important to talk about the impact your nonprofit is having thanks to your donors. People want to see where their money is going and know how big of an impact it is actually making. This donor stewardship could be through personalized emails. This is also the time to analyze data from year-end, segment donors for the use of the rest of the year, and focus on updating the campaign landing page with results from year-end.


Recurring Giving (February)

After the initial gratitude content and emails, it is now time to push that momentum even more. Take time to nurture these new and existing donors. Invest in valuable creative that tells a good story and educates your donors on why upgrading their gift to recurring giving will make the most impact in the coming year.



Now, that was a lot of information thrown right at you. However, we are sure that by following these pointers and timeline, your nonprofit will be well on its way to succeeding this year. Feel free to come back to this blog and reassess your progress. The main takeaways from this blog would be to analyze, analyze, analyze data. Notice what has worked well this year and last year and upgrade or change your strategy accordingly. With that in mind, choose your marketing tools and timeline to make sure you are maximizing impact. Happy fundraising!

Maria Sadusky

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